FTA moves to gain mo­men­tum

China Daily (Canada) - - TORONTO - By ZHONG­NAN zhong­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China will step up ef­forts to forge more bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral free trade agree­ments in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion to re­duce the im­pact of the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship pact inked onMon­day, ex­perts said onWed­nes­day.

The TPP will in­clude pro­vi­sions on elim­i­nat­ing and re­duc­ing tar­iffs and non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers on in­dus­trial goods among mem­ber coun­tries, as well as re­mov­ing or re­duc­ing tar­iffs and other re­stric­tive poli­cies on agri­cul­tural goods.

The United States’ gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers the TPP as a prac­ti­cal mea­sure that could ex­pand the coun­try’s in­flu­ence in the fast-grow­ing Asi­aPa­cific re­gion.

Apart from the US, the TPP talks in­volve Aus­tralia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Ja­pan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Sin­ga­pore, and Viet­nam.

Zhang Yan­sheng, sec­re­tarygen­eral of the aca­demic com­mit­tee of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion, said five TPP na­tions— Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Sin­ga­pore, Chile and Peru — have al­ready inked FTA deals with China. These FTAs can ef­fec­tively lower the pos­si­ble im­pact onChina’s for­eign trade and man­u­fac­tur­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Un­der the China-Aus­tralia Free Trade Agree­ment signed in June, tar­iffs on more than 85 per­cent of goods traded be­tween the two coun­tries will be cut to zero im­me­di­ately. About 97 per­cent of Aus­tralian ex­ports to China will be tar­iff free within four years.

Of­fi­cial fig­ures show trade vol­umes be­tween China and Aus­tralia jumped from $88.1 bil­lion in 2010 to $136.9 bil­lion in 2014. Aus­tralia had a $9.4 bil­lion trade sur­plus with China last year.

China has set goals to com­plete ne­go­ti­a­tions on the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship by the end of this year, which would link the 10 ASEAN mem­ber na­tions with China, Aus­tralia, In­dia, Ja­pan, New Zealand and South Korea, ac­count­ing for one-third of the world’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

“It is clear that coun­tries that signed the TPP deal such as Aus­tralia, NewZealand and Chile are acutely aware that the fu­ture de­mand for agri­cul­tural ex­ports in­clud­ing beef, wheat, fruit, wine and dairy prod­ucts will come from China

TPP mem­bers with­out FTAs with China and In­dia, and not from the US, Ja­pan or Sin­ga­pore,” said Zhang.

The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers FTAs as a new plat­form to fur­ther open up to the world and speed up do­mes­tic re­forms, an ef­fec­tive ap­proach to in­te­grate into the global econ­omy and strengthen co­op­er­a­tion with other economies, as well as an im­por­tant sup­ple­ment to the mul­ti­lat­eral trad­ing sys­tem.

Liu Chenyang, a re­searcher at the APEC Study Cen­ter of the Tian­jin-based Nankai Univer­sity, said: “China’s huge mar­ket de­mand and large pop­u­la­tion will be key in at­tract­ing coun­tries to sign bi­lat­eral or mul­ti­lat­eral FTAs. It won’t be a big deal if some coun­tries in the Pa­cific Rim sign other re­gional trade treaties. It is a free mar­ket, af­ter all.”

The China-ASEAN Free Trade Agree­ment was signed in 2002 and ne­go­ti­a­tions to up­grade this agree­ment are ex­pected by the end of this year, ac­cord­ing to theMin­istry of Com­merce.

“To di­ver­sify its trade chan­nels, China is will­ing to jointly pro­mote the build­ing of the 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road, strengthen in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity co­op­er­a­tion and push for closer in­te­gra­tion in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion,” said Liu.

United States

Ja­pan

Mexico

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